Saturday, September 6, 2014

Body vs Earth Sprint Triathlon, Earth Wins.

It should have been called the Swim with Bare Feet, Swim with Two Wheels, Swim with Shoes.

We woke up to pouring rain, we swam in it, biked in it, ran in it, and cheered everyone else on in it.

Char and I arrived early, in the pouring rain and pitch black sky, to prep.  I was cold and soaked before it was even time to don my first ever swim cap (it came in the race packet) and head down to the beach for the mass start.  My teeth were chattering, either from the cold or nerves, or both.  Thankfully, Char had to work early, so she was there as my coach and support team.

For my first open water swim, this one was a doozy.  The first 50 meters or so were fine.  A little bumping, a little frothy, watching the kelp wave along under the water.  As soon as we got into the deep stuff, the 30 mile an hour gusts kicked up the chop and it was all I could do to keep my head above water.  I could feel tiny water gremlins pulling at my legs and singing songs that in ages past lulled unsuspecting sailors to their deaths.  I might have finished with three or four folks behind me.  But I didn't ever have to ask for help from the lifeguards in the kayaks and I will count this one as a success.

The stuff of my nightmares.
There were, thankfully, no sharks.  That I could see, anyways.

The bike started out well.  The roads were slick as ice, but the tailwind was incredible on the way out.  Which means, well, you know, the way back was not so nice.  After I just managed to not kill myself on any tight turns, bumpy low-water crossings, and puddle covered potholes, it was time to fight for my life against an arctic wind replete with tiny gremlin snipers hiding in the trees firing ice bullets at my lips.  Seriously, it hurt, a lot!

I managed to fly past just about everyone that came into view, including a large number of people on fancy road bikes with aero bars.  Just because your bike and kit make you look fast, doesn't mean you are fast.  There's always some homely, hairy 'squatch like me ready to fly past you like you're standing still.  Just not in the water.

My second transition was as smooth as the first, with Charla's amazing support and coaching, and I was off into the run portion.

About a quarter mile down the road the course turned up into a rolling grassy knoll.  Over the top and the course became a nightmare of rocks, slick and sucking mud, grass covering mud and rocks, and more tiny gremlins with little sticks trying to poke you off balance.  Seriously, what's with the gremlins everywhere?

The course was definitely not a fast one, it was straight verticals up the sides of rocky, muddy slopes, then back down the other side before climbing again.  I passed more people than I can count again, each one cursing my name under their breath.  Maybe they brought forth the gremlins, I don't know.

At one of the 10,000 hilltops the course summited, each about the height of Base Camp One on Mt. Everest, there was a water point.  The kind gentlemen in the soaked t-shirt asked me politely if I would like some water as he held out a styrofoam cup.  I looked up and down and all around.  I was the meat in a water sandwich and had been for almost 90 minutes.  I declined.

When the trail finally tumbled back out on the road for the final sprint to the finish line, I was alone and cruised into the finish line one hour and forty-seven minutes after it had all started.  I didn't even feel tired right then but about four hours later would collapse into a coma on my warm, soft couch with a cat sleeping on my chest and a dog huffing into my arm.

My first open water, trail run, windy, freezing, soaked, sprint triathlon?  Done.